Harrogate Town defender Luke Shiels faces an extended spell on the sidelines and could miss the bulk of the club’s promotion battle.
Shiels sustained a knee injury before Christmas and will require an operation to fix a cartilage issue.
The former Worksop Town defender has been a rock in the Town defence since joining 12 months ago and forged a strong partnership with Danny Ellis in the first half of the season.
Boss Simon Weaver said Shiels could still feature in a Town shirt in the wait to go under the knife.
Weaver said: “It’s down to how much it’s hurting for him. You can still play on it but the only person who knows just how bad it is is the player.
"We are trying to get him in for an operation but that will be when it will be. After that he is likely to be out for a while."
Former club captain Dave McGurk has returned to the starting line-up alongside Ellis since Shiels limped off against AFC Fylde.
McGurk could be set for an extended stay in the team as Weaver said Shiels would be sidelined for up to three months following surgery.
Weaver added: "It's a difficult one for us. We obviously want him fit and playing because he has been excellent,
“It's up to him. If he says I am okay, I would be stupid not to involve him.
“But we are worried that it could deteriorate quickly and we know it’s going to need an operation at some point.
"It's an opportunity for Dave to come back into the team and he has taken his chance with a number of good performances."